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December 2, 2021

10/15/2021 1:12:00 PM
Dodgeville City Council hears questions on land assessment
While it wasn't the first item on the agenda, a deferred assessment that dates back 20 years ago was brought to Dodgeville City Council
Landowner Kent Johnson and Attorney Vernon Jesse attended Tuesday night's meeting in order to clarify assessment fees on land that Johnson would potentially sell.
The land in question is on the northside of Highway YZ near Bennett Road, and taking a left.
Attorney Jesse informed council members that Mr. Johnson had owned this property since 1996, and clarified that it is not prime development property due to its steep conditions.
In 2001, there was a discussion regarding special assessments for infrastructure improvements for this land and adjacent areas.
There was a public hearing on February 6, 2001 to discuss both deferred and special assessments. Some were paid on five year plans. Attorney Jesse sent letters, along with a copy of those meeting minutes. From those meeting minutes, there was an understanding that since the property would not be developed, no assessment fees would have to be paid.
However, this spring Mr. Johnson informed Attorney Jesse that there was someone interested in purchasing his land. A title search showed a Schedule B2 item, showing a memorandum of deferred assessments. The problem comes in as the memorandum stated that assessments had to be paid not only when he hooked up, but also to be paid when sold and conveying the property. Attorney Jesse informed council members that there was never a mention of Mr. Johnson having to pay these fees if they are sold and conveyed.
It turns out a resolution was adopted, making it so that landowners had to pay these fees.
"I don't believe the resolution that was adopted is consistent with what the city told the property owners and citizens," Attorney Jesse said. "The minutes are very clear, you have the authority to correct this if you are inclined to do so. We would specifically ask you to do that and declare that the property owners only have to pay if they connect."
Mayor Todd Novak asked what the assessment amount was, to which Mr. Johnson said was approximately $100,000. Novak said that this isn't the first time that the city has dealt with deferred assessments and referred the question to the City of Dodgeville's Attorney Eileen Brownlee who was present for the meeting.
Brownlee informed council members that the council adopted two separate resolutions: one for an assessment to be paid at the time the property was sold or hooked up, and another assessment to be paid when hooked up. She informed council members Mr. Johnson's case was in the former category. She also stated that the city gives 90 days to challenge an assessment, which as Brownlee stated was far beyond the 90 days. She said that the city could make a change, however didn't recommend doing so, given the fact that the deferred assessment was farther out than 10 years.
"The city has a right to assess the property but it also has the right to collect the assessments as they are, as they definitely were assessed," Brownlee said.
Attorney Jesse stated that there isn't a copy of the notice from 20 years ago.
"If the notice had said 'this is the amount of your assessment,' and 'the terms under which it's due,' and having to pay when selling the property instead of paying only when connected, Mr. Johnson would have done something at the time," Attorney Jesse said. "This isn't just about the law, this is about what's right. The minutes unequivocally said if you do not connect, you do not have to pay."
Novak informed Attorney Jesse that the current council has not come upon deferred assessments until this meeting, and they refer to Brownlee for legal advice. After 20 minutes of discussion, city council recommended that Mr. Johnson further discuss the issue with City Attorney Brownlee.
In other council business:
-Council members approved a street use permit for the Homecoming Parade that takes place tonight for Dodgeville Homecoming.
-Council members approved a conditional use permit for Parcel 216-1302, allowing mini storage units to be built on the property and to allow for outside storage.
-Council members approved a certified survey map regarding property lying south of the Greater Heights Subdivision.
-Council members approved a resolution for construction site, sediment control and stormwater management.
-Council members approved a ward plan for local redistricting and an ordinance for ward boundaries and alderman districts. The wards could change, but the aldermanic districts wouldn't change much, with the exception of aldermanic district two moving to aldermanic district one. Stay tuned for more details.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is on the calendar for October 19 at 5:30 p.m.

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